During my research activities in de mid 90’s I had a special interest for the design and philosophy of Michael Reynolds.
In 1997 I had the honour to meet him and his team in New Mexico, during a study trip of the pueblo’s culture around New Mexico and Colorado (USA).
In 2004 I did in depth research about Earthship construction system with the objective of sharing the information through Recyclicity Foundation from Rotterdam. The same year we organised a trip with many architects from The Netherlands with Stichting Owaze, where we could visit the construction of the Earthship in Brighton.
In short we can say that the Earthship features are characterised by:
- using solar or wind energy
- passive solar heating
- thermal mass design,
- solar and wind electric power,
- integrated water reuse systems,
- natural and recycled materials,
- low cost,
- no utility bills.
Beside the ecological aspects, what makes innovative the Earthship concept in my opinion are three very strong points, that make it captivating at a social dimension:
1- The use of low-tech systems (easy, accessible technology)
There is something very strong behind the fact that you CAN build entire your own house.
2- Collective building (people become more aware of the individual lifestyle)
New form of conceiving the construction process, breaking with the traditional construction companies system. The construction of a house becomes a very important gathering (social) moment.
3- Manual approach (DIY) expanding knowledge:
Reynolds proposed in the early 70’s a new role of the architect professional. By making manuals and selling books with the instructions for building your own Earthship, he proposed a new role of the architect, the one of facilitator. He introduced the notion of expanding the knowledge and giving tools to people, DIY. This was already happening in many other sectors but not in the architecture field.
To know more about Earthships:
In USA: www.earthship.org
In The Netherlands: www.owaze.nl
This was a research engagement from the Recyclicity Foundation and I executed it in collaboration with technical engineer Joost Suasso in 2004.